Since the emergence of the oil and gas sector in Guyana, more local companies have been pursuing measures geared towards improving standards, efficiency, customer satisfaction and international recognition. For such organizations looking to improve the quality of their products and services and consistently meet their customers’ expectations, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been the solution.
The Center for Local Business Development (CLBD), established by ExxonMobil in 2017, has set up a mentorship programmme which is helping a growing number of Guyanese companies through the process of getting the coveted ISO certification.
“For a kind of select group of supply chains that we knew would be needed in oil and gas, we developed an ISO 9001 mentorship programme,” said CLBD Director, Patrick Henry. He pointed out that ISO 9001 is an international standard on quality control and quality assurance, and it was agreed upon as the base for companies in Guyana to comply with.
So far, 21 companies have joined the mentorship programme which provides participants with the necessary knowledge and training to work towards compliance. The businesses that have become ISO 9001 compliant through CLBD include machine shops, rigging and slinging, OEM replacement, security, waste management logistics, marine personnel, and training services.
He explained that there is a difference between compliance and certification. “…if they were compliant then Guyanese businesses would have an auditable set of records that an international company could understand, it could compare it to something. They can then hire those companies to work in the oil and gas sector and can work with those companies if the companies wanted to get certification…”
The first set of companies to join the mentorship programme were identified by ExxonMobil’s Prime Contractors who had specific needs for their work on the Liza Phase 1 Development. As local companies participated in the programme, they began to understand the benefits of being ISO certified.
“It would be easier for companies in oil and gas to understand their systems, their procedures, and so as companies started going through the process, they started asking about Certification,” Henry pointed out. “That was up to them…so companies started becoming or getting the ISO 9001 audits of which that was their own investment…paying to get audited in getting ISO 9001 certified.”
He also disclosed that many of the companies CLBD worked with on ISO 9001 certification in the beginning were working in the mining sector. “Trying to get into the oil and gas sector and working towards ISO 9001 compliance made their core business in the mining sector better, more profitable because they were improving the systems for the whole business, not just for this potential in the oil and gas sector.”
He said the average amount of time it takes CLBD to work with a company is around 200 hours spread out over several months during which time the firms themselves have to spend money, resources and dedicate time to ensure the systems that they developed to meet the standards are being followed.
“Ten of the companies have become compliant and of the ten…six of those are ISO 9001 certified and then three others are waiting…,” he said, pointing that the delay is as a result of the pandemic. The range of these companies also continue to grow.
To date, more than 2,600 local suppliers are registered on CLBD’s Supplier Portal and over 3,500 individuals have taken part in its courses and seminars from more than 1,000 local businesses.